Whether you call it “group discount buying”, “social commerce” or “E-mail coupon deals” – it’s clearly an idea whose time has come…relative to say, Mercata’s 1999-2001 $89 million crash and burn, that is.
But it is back by popular demand. Only this time it’s not the ‘Costco of the Internet’ model, aimed at pooling geographically disparate groups of consumers around hard retail goods, competing with the eBays and Amazons of the world-but rather, more focused on what services are relevant here (locally) and now (immediate).
“The method of aggregating demand to reduce prices on products sold online is new and may not become a popular method of purchasing goods and services,” the company acknowledged back in 2000. Maybe Mercata was just premature; perhaps their behavior changing vision was just ahead of its time relative to the critical mass of modern social graphs which power the group buying models of today?
And ten years later, it’s impossible to ignore the massive resurgence of this concept. Reignited by the infamous Groupon, Steven Carpenter said it best: “No other startup has gone more quickly from launch to $1 billion+ in valuation except YouTube (12 months), which Groupon achieved in 16 months with its latest $135 million infusion two weeks ago.”
Which brings us to the tale of one Minnesota player: DealStork.